By Olanrewaju Oyedeji
Nigerians are lamenting Tuesday’s order by the National Industrial Court ordering the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC to shelve its planned strike to protest the recent increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS.
Ruling on an application brought before it by the Federal Government of Nigeria, the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Justice Babatunde Adeniran Ademjumo affirmed that the plaintiffs had substantially made their case and therefore granted an interim order restraining the Nigeria Labor Congress from embarking on the indefinite strike that had been slated to commence from Wednesday to protest the hike in the price of petrol.
Presiding over lawsuit No.NICN/ABJ/179/2016 between Federal Government of Nigeria and the Nigeria Labor Congress and Trade Union Congress the judge granted an interim order of injunction restraining the Defendants/Respondents, their agents, privies, employees, workmen, or servants from embarking on industrial action, demonstrating or engaging in any action that may disrupt the economic activities of Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
The Federal Government was represented by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN; Okoi Obono Obla, Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution, and Dayo Apata, Director of Civil Litigation at the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The Attorney General of the Federation submitted that if the reliefs sought in the motion paper is refused, irreparable damage will be done to the country’s national economy, security and corporate existence. He further submitted that the defendants having threatened to shut down the country have to be restrained otherwise there will be a breakdown of law and order.
In his ruling, Justice Adejumo held that he has jurisdiction to hear the application and that having read through the affidavits in support of the application, he is satisfied that a case of urgency has been established by the Federal Government of Nigeria to warrant the grant of an interim order of injunction.
He said the threats of the defendants as contained in the communique issued by the NLC on May 15 to shut down all banks; airports, seaports, government offices, markets nationwide has proven that there is a res to be protected.
The latest ruling is coming on the heels of widespread tension over how the strike would go, giving the fact also that some affiliates of the NLC had already expressed their reservations over the contemplated action.
The possible failure of the strike notwithstanding, there is still widespread outrage over the increase.
Noted one commentator:
“The latest increase is the most audacious and cruel in the history of product price increase as it represents not only about 80 per cent increase but it is tied to the black market exchange rate. With the
imposition on the citizenry of criminal and unjustifiable electricity tariff and resultant darkness and other economic challenges brought on by the devaluation of the Naira and spiraling inflation, the least one had expected at this point in time was another policy measure that would further make life more miserable for the ordinary Nigerian”.
For some other commentators, the NLC never really wanted to prosecute an effective strike process.
As one of them put it:
‘Nobody will listen to the treacherous NLC. We all remember how the leadership was settled to stall the last ” Occupy Nigeria “. They can no longer deceive us. They only want to make noise so that they will be called for negotiations. The strike plan is dead on arrival.’
It remains to be seen now what Wednesday will bring.